Monday, March 26, 2012

Radiant Ring block tutorial

Sorry for dropping off the face of the blogosphere this last week - thanks to those of you who wrote to me with your concern :)  I am indeed A-OK, just spent a lot of time enjoying our early summer weather here in Florida, before the inevitable 90 degree temperatures set in.  Bike riding has become a new favorite activity of the munchkin's, now that he's physically gotten the hang of riding his new big boy bike.  To make it up to you, my wonderful readers, I've got a new block tutorial for you :)

This year, I'm having a lot of fun with the Stash Trad bee.  It's a group of amazingly talented quilters who have a love for messing with traditional blocks with a modern twist.  Lee made us a fabulously apropos button for the bee, with that very motto in mind.


April is my turn in the group, and I waffled a lot this month, thinking about what to ask the girls to make for me, and I kept coming back to the Rolling Stone block, which dates as far back as 1898, credited as being listed in the Ladies' Art Company Catalog.

Much as I like the block, I wanted to do something a little different with it, so I fooled around with the color placement, using four colors rather than two and creating an octogon or ring in the center of the block.  Then, I decided that I wanted to do something really colorful, so I played around in Illustrator until I came up with this fun layout:

Rainbow Rolling Stone variation for April

After some trial and error, I found that paper piecing the corner units of each block is the most accurate way to piece these blocks, so I've created my first paper piecing template.  It's hand-drawn because Illustrator and I couldn't seem to see eye-to-eye, but this template works great for this block.  And if you've never paper pieced, don't worry!  This is super easy-peasy paper piecing, I promise it will be painless :)

Radiant Ring block
12.5" unfinished block

This block tutorial is written for using one neutral color as well as three additional contrasting colors.  In my block, I used warm colors for color A, B, and C, but I think a scrappy version of this block would also be amazing.

4 neutral 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles
4 neutral 5" square
1 orange 4.5" square
4 red colored 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles
4 red colored 3.5" x 5.5" rectangles
12 yellow colored 3.5" x 5.5" rectangles

All seams are a scant 1/4" unless otherwise noted.  All paper piecing done with a 1.5mm stitch length.

1. Print four copies of the Radiant Ring Template for each block you're making.  Cut your fabric, and keep in mind that you'll be using the 3.5" x 5.5" rectangles are used for paper piecing.  This size worked nicely for me when I was piecing, but you may want to make adjustments after your first block.

2. Let's get the paper piecing out of the way.  If you've paper pieced before, this is going to be a breeze, and if you haven't, that's okay, too, I'm going to make this as simple as possible.  We're going to be making the four corner units using one template each.  First, place one neutral 5" square right side out on the back of template, making sure that your square covers the entire template square.  Pin in place, in the center.


3. Next, take one of your yellow 3.5" x 5.5" rectangles and line up the long side side so that approximately 1/4" overlaps over the seam line for part A of the template, making sure that the right side of the fabric face down onto the paper.  Pin in place, if necessary, and stitch in place.  Be sure to stitch into the seam allowance to lock the fabric in place.



4. Finger press your yellow fabric in place then press with a hot dry iron.  Flip your yellow fabric back and trim the excess neutral fabric to approximately 1/4" or so beyond the seam.  Don't worry about trimming the excess yellow fabric yet.


5. Next, flip your template back over so the template faces you.  Take another of your yellow 3.5" x 5.5" rectangles and line up the long side side, with the right side of the fabric face down onto the paper, so that approximately 1/4" overlaps over the seam line for part B of the template, which is directly across from part A. Pin in place, if necessary, and stitch in place.  Again, be sure to stitch into the seam allowance to lock the fabric in place.


6. Repeat step 5 for your final yellow rectangle, using part C of the template.

7. Flip your template back over so the template faces you again.  Take one of your red 3.5" x 5.5" rectangles and line up the long side side, with the right side of the fabric face down onto the paper, so that approximately 1/4" overlaps over the seam line for part D of the template.


Pin in place, if necessary, and stitch in place.  Again, be sure to stitch into the seam allowance to lock the fabric in place.  Press your seam open and bring your finished template over to your cutting table.


Ugly, right?  Let's fix that!

8. Place your template paper side up for this step.


Disregard the dotted line and trim all the way around the solid black square line of the template, and voila!  A simple paper pieced square in square!  Marvel at your paper piecing prowess for a moment, and then move on to the next step ;)


8. Next, let's build the other subunits for this block.  Take the four 2.5" x 4.5" neutral rectangles and pair each one with a red rectangle of the same size.  Seam each pair together and press seams open.

9. To finish your block, we're simply going to sew the nine subunits we've created together, in rows of three.  First, lay out your subunits as shown below.


Then, remove the paper from the back of your corner subunits, which should be fairly simple.  Your stitches perforated the paper, so simply fold back your paper and pull.  Repeat for all subunits.  Stitch each row of three together, then stitch the three rows together, and voila!  A finished gorgeous 12.5" block.

Rainbow Rolling Stone

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial!  If you make a Radiant Ring block, I sure would love to see it in my Flickr group, Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy!  Happy Monday :)

A note to the Stash Trad gang:  Please make either a Warm or Cool block, using Kona Snow as your background color, and don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions. 


  1. Um, Elizabeth? Have you been reading my mind? I worked on a couple of these blocks yesterday and decided last night that I wanted to use it in my next bee quilt. So glad you've done a tutorial for it so I have a place to send everyone! Can't wait to see what your bee members do with it!

  2. Love your mock-up. And thanks for the perfect paper pieced corners! Great block.

  3. Very fun!! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Great tutorial!! I really like your color placement. : )

  5. Awesome tutorial! Thanks for doing all the work so I can have f.u.n!

  6. Very nice, E! Thanks for the tutorial. And I'm with you--it's been too nice outside to spend too much time behind the sewing machine!

  7. great tute Elizabeth! This quilt will be great when it all comes together :-)

  8. Great tutorial Elizabeth and so simple when you break it down I am always amazed at how straightforward these blocks are when they are explained otherwise I wouldn't have a clue! Thank you so much. Going to try one of them tonight! Fi

  9. This will be a fun quilt! Thanks for the tutorial!

  10. I can't get it to print the pattern,what am I doing wrong? Love your block, thanks.

  11. So cute and looks hard but once you broke it down, it is deceptively easy to put together- love it when that happens!

  12. Great choice of block, Elizabeth! And as usual, you've done a great job with the tutorial, thank you for sharing!

  13. You are incredibly generous with your tutes!!! Thanks.

  14. Great tutorial. Thank goodness for foundation paper piecing!

  15. Beautiful colors, Great Paper Pieced Tutorial. Thanks for sharing¡¡¡

  16. I have been playing around with this block myself!! So glad you made a wonderful tute... the Eugene Modern Quilt Guild will be using it this month for our sampler!! Thanks a BUNDLE!

  17. I just discovered your blog and thought you might like to see my take on your radiant ring block. I found the instructions in in Judy Hopkins book of blocks.
    PS Love your blog and your work


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Welcome! I'm Elizabeth, mom to a very busy nine year old boy and a one year old baby girl and I sew for my sanity. Let's get to quilting, shall we?
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